Things to do: Tremoloco at Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge

Tremoloco accurately describes himself as “Cantina music, Gulf Coast roots, Sonoroan Gothic folk and Tex-Mex Americana.” The brainchild of Los Angeles-based musician Tony Zamora, Tremoloco has deep roots in Texas where Houston accordion handler Roberto Rodriguez III was a major part of the band and their next creative stage.

Tremoloco will perform at Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge on Friday, July 15 for an intimate performance before returning to California to record their fourth album, La CoranderaIt is scheduled to be released later this year.

Zamora has been a musician and side man for as long as he can remember in Los Angeles. Growing up, his two older siblings were part of the 1960s East Los Angeles music scene, bringing him endless connections to the musical community there and tons of exposure and playing opportunities.

In 2008, Zamora decided that he would try to create his own business and Trimoloko was born. “I started this band which was a lot easier to do, and then I thought it was because all the musicians I loved and respected started helping us,” Zamora said of his famous assistants including Max and Josh Vaca of Los Texmanias, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Cindy Cashdollar and the late Ian McClagan, “It was a labor of love and they knew I was one of them.”

Zamora, who has Texan roots and visits the state frequently, was contacted by Rodriguez from Houston through a writer from Houston Press At about the same time and although Rodriguez did not finish on the first album, DulcineaThe two quickly formed a bond and partnership that grew over time.

“It was so much fun,” Rodriguez’s Zanora says. “We’ve never had a single cross word for each other. We’ve been very supportive and since I’ve been out of L.A. and he’s in Houston, we’ve been totally supportive of each other and totally support each other on any outside projects. There’s no arrogance with her.”

“We remain supportive of each other and fully support each other in any external projects. There is no arrogance in that.”

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There may be a generational gulf between Zamora and Rodriguez, but their association with celebrating and preserving music and pushing its roots into new songwriting audiences has created a strong foundation for their friendship and partnership as bandmates.

“It’s weird, you see older Mexicans and younger Mexicans on stage but we go back and forth with each other. The audience seems to like all the stories we tell and the stories go along with the songs we do,” Rodriguez describes.

Although, like Zamora, Rodriguez has served as a side man on a number of great local projects like Nick Gaitan, Umbrella Man, Goat Leather and as a member of Luba Dvorak’s band, Tremoloco is the first project he really pushed himself into writing songs with Zamora’s encouragement and direction.

Zamora started writing songs that you’d be a part of without the many gigs you’d be playing during the pandemic La Corandera. He and Rodriguez initially collaborated over the phone but with different time zones and a lack of real-time interactions, it proved difficult to get them to travel to each other to complete the writing process.

“Tony is the reason I started becoming more of a songwriter,” Rodriguez says. Especially with this album.” Zamora describes the relationship as a two-way street as Rodriguez helps him write lyrics in Spanish and he in turn guides Rodriguez in the songwriting process.

The band also took time during the pandemic to film a performance away at the historic Papee and Harriet Theaters in California, and the songs were featured in Scott Windhauser’s film. Death in Texas.

For the past few weeks, Zamora has been in Texas traveling with the band to perform and record new tracks for the album including a stop at the University of Texas at El Paso to perform with local mariachis there, an experience as close to Zamora’s heart as he is. The mother lived there before she moved to California.

Their current run in Texas allows them to bring out their new songs and practice them in front of an audience before heading back to California to record. “The smaller venues allow me to sit in front of a captivating audience and tell stories,” Zamora says of the band’s performances that often prove educational and entertaining with both artists being very knowledgeable about the history of folk music from Mexico.

California and Texas have a lot in common with both states that share a border with Mexico and have a rich tradition of torch-bearing songwriters, as do Zamora and Rodriguez.

“They are connected,” Zamora says of the Mexicans who came to California through the Sonora region, bringing not only their culture and food with them, but their music as well. He’s an expert on Tegano matters, says Zamora of Rodriguez. “There’s no real Tex Mex in California, there’s something unique about Texas Tex Mex and it’s really cool about that.”

Tremoloco will premiere Friday, July 15 at Shoeshine Charley’s Big Top Lounge, 3714 S Main, at 8 p.m., $10.

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